How much are you prepared to pay for civilisation?
We are all too familiar with the satellite picture of North Korea in darkness at night and the horror stories of millions of people living in impoverishment. More recently I have read Barbara Demick’s, Nothing To Envy: Love, Life and Death in North Korea.
This book is both depressing yet insightful. The journey you take while reading is one of disbelief of a state starving its people yet demanding hero worship of its leaders. The book shows too that no matter how hard a state seeks to control its people, individual spirit cannot be crushed. North Koreans inventiveness and street smarts have been tested to the limit, just in order to survive in such a dysfunctional regime. The book does, however, drive home that a functioning electricity sector is indeed the backbone of every economy.
At the weekend, Federal Minister for Energy, Hon Martin Ferguson MP, in plain speaking, said that we need to come to terms with the true cost of electricity. I couldn’t agree more and full credit to him for raising the issue.
Recent electricity price decisions have seen dramatic increases foreshadowed for consumers. Some have argued that this is a result of governments not keeping pace with the need to replace ageing infrastructure (equipment from the 1950s is still being used).
There is some truth in this but there is also the increase in demand that shows no signs of abating. We are a society that embraces new technology and most homes and offices are now more wired up than a NASA control station. This technology requires reliable power supply - 24 hours a day.
No politician likes to be associated with increasing electricity bills but there are many practical steps we can take to reduce our consumption and our bills. Water conservation measures have been effective in entering people’s consciousness. We are all too familiar with our diminishing rivers and shrinking dams and have made a conscious effort to reduce our water usage.
Three minute shower campaigns and trusted individuals advising us on water usage have all been effective measures. For example, Canberrans are provided a daily update of dam levels. Dam levels are currently at 54% capacity - not so long ago that figure was around 30%. The challenge is – are we prepared to do the same with electricity and reduce our energy waste.
Energy prices have been increasing recently due to a range of factors across the energy market. Australia’s energy ministers have agreed that price rises are expected to occur in coming years due to investments to meet the challenges of ageing infrastructure, growing demand and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy consumers typically see one bill which can be affected by price and cost changes across the entire energy chain. Across most of Australia network charges are approved by the independent Australian Energy Regulator.
The national regulator is tasked with approving pricing proposals that promote the ‘long term interest of consumers’ in efficient prices that safeguard longer-term investment, reliability and safety. Over $42 billion of capital expenditure has been approved by energy regulators to help meet these needs over the next five years. These price increases are necessary if we are to future proof our networks in order to keep the lights on and to start building a smarter energy network.
The true cost of electricity, like water, needs to be made available to assist people in making better informed choices. As the people in North Korea continue to live without heating and choose between starvation or crossing a frozen river to embrace a better life, perhaps we all could take a minute (or sixty) this Saturday night for Earth Hour to appreciate what we have and spare a thought for those who go without.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…